Readers decry -- and defend -- America's gun laws.

By Salon Staff
Published March 30, 2005 7:25PM (EST)

[Read "Tough on Terror, Weak on Guns," by Mark Benjamin.]

Efforts by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress to weaken gun laws while ignoring the potentially disastrous consequences of their actions is yet another indicator of their stubborn post-Cold War attitude toward the fight against terrorism. They continually ignore the most effective and proven techniques for stopping the terrorist threat: law enforcement and criminal investigations. Massive military power is seen as the only option, so reasonable domestic initiatives are shelved and actively undermined. Forget the potential for a terrorist attack for a moment -- what about the growth of ordinary criminals' arsenals?

People are actually dying so politicians can keep their coffers full. Keeping people poor and armed to the teeth is no way to ensure a peaceful home front.

-- Derek Sutton

It's silly to try to impose stricter gun control on the U.S. population in a vain attempt to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.

A terrorist, or any criminal for that matter, is not particularly concerned about the law. That would seem to be the very definition of a bad guy.

Restricting legal possession of guns only feeds the black market in weapons and leaves law-abiding people without a means of personal defense.

-- Marie Angell

I really wish that Salon would either find reporters who are familiar with firearms to write stories like this or, failing that, restrict the scope of the stories to the politics used in the tease. Why? Because the reporter doesn't seem to know what he is talking about when it comes to the actual firearms.

Mr. Benjamin writes, "I can go to the local gun shop and buy [a gun] as powerful as that M-16," apparently unaware that the M16 (which shoots .223 caliber ammunition) is really not that powerful and in fact is not legal for hunting large game in many states. Almost any of the common hunting calibers, such as those used to hunt deer, pack a much larger punch.

Of the Herstal Five-Seven, he writes, "It's a handgun that can penetrate body armor, a capability usually reserved for rifles," which is uninformed and misleading at best. Body armor comes in numerous classifications. Even the ATF does not classify the rounds for the Five-Seven as "armor piercing."

Even in the realm of the political, the reporter seems to be taking wishful thinking and elevating it to the level of fact. Mr. Benjamin writes, "Sales at gun shows are completely unregulated in most states, and most purchases require no background checks." Both assertions are absolutely false. Sales at gun shows are subject to the very same regulations that firearms dealers have to abide by when they sell at their stores, and all such purchases do in fact require background checks and waiting periods. The only purchases that are not subject to these requirements are the result of sales between private individuals who are not firearms dealers. Such sales happen in a lot of ways, not just at gun shows. (Ever hear of classified ads?)

I am all for reasonable regulation of firearms (and feel that in most respects we have that now), but I do not support articles that are full of errors and/or misleading statements.

-- Alan Atwood

It amazes me that so many liberals can't recognize the individual right to bear arms as a civil liberty. They hate the PATRIOT Act when it is used to stifle free speech, but love it for gun control.

They read the right to choose into a Constitution that says absolutely nothing about family planning. When it comes to arms, specifically mentioned in the Second Amendment, liberals suddenly discover lots of nuances.

Protecting civil liberties means protecting all of them. We the people need to defend all the civil liberties, not just the ones we like.

Most liberals act like the armchair ecologists who want to save the cute critters but kill all the spiders and snakes. If you want to preserve an ecosystem, you protect all the critters. Same with civil rights. If you to keep any, jealously guard them all.

-- Richard Krukar

Salon Staff

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